John Muir: Nature’s Visionary

Gretel Ehrlich’s John Muir: Nature’s Visionary is a fascinating account of a premiere environmentalist in America’s history.  This biography traced Muir’s life from his birth and upbringing in Scotland, conflicts with his family, and decision to venture out on his own in the wilderness.  This environmentalist’s adventures took him on a thousand-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, having experiences in the Sierra Nevada, and on explorations in Alaska.

Ehrlich showed that Muir endured childhood beatings, near death experiences, bouts of malaria, and near starvation during his life.  Most of these trials came in the wildness where he often slept in the snow, was without a coat, and had worked at odd jobs.  But Muir’s love of nature propelled him in the wildness to be with trees like the giant sequoias, mountains, lakes, valleys, rocks, and the flora and fauna of these regions.  He also made notes, sketched images, and observed glaciers.

Muir’s vision eventually bore fruit, and because of his activism on October 1, 1890, a bill in the United States senate made Yosemite a national park.  More success followed when national parks were set aside for 55 wildlife preserves and 150 national forests.  His twilight years saw him as an accomplished writer, an advocate for parks, and undertaking travels to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia.

Muir lived in the Martinez ranch with his wife Louie and daughters.  Eventually, he suffered setbacks in his evangelistic mission of preserving more open spaces when big business won, and the waterway Hetch Hetchy was dammed.  At an older age he was suffering from a respiratory illness that got worse and killed him.

Storms in Nature

What causes a lightning strike?

What brings thunderstorms?

Lightning flashes when positively

And negatively charged particles interact

Grow large enough to form a giant spark

But thunderstorms form from an unstable air mass

When warm and usually cold air collide

Yet, some sacred texts reveal this is how God speaks

God explodes, brings judgment, and condemns

But how did the ancients believe these were acts of God?

Scientists, prophets, theologians tend to agree

That there must be “cause and effect”

So, they determine God possesses this power

For, the Eternal Spirit exists in nature

Other phenomena are just as revealing –

Tsunamis are sudden movement of the ocean by earthquakes,

Volcanoes are formed from the buoyancy of the magma,

And pressure from absolved gases,

Hurricanes are due to intense low pressure areas

That forms in the summer or fall over warm waters

Some religious, view these eruptions as acts of God

“God, help us to be cognizant of nature’s phenomena.  These manifestations often cause devastations that are based on the mysteries of your omniscience.  So, protect us from these storms of life.”


On This Valentine’s Day

On this Valentine’s Day

Not too often there’s a day

When so much love is shared

Today is such a day!

It’s a day for caring!

And being open to love!

It’s a day of joy!

As people reach out to those they love

I extend blessings to my family, friends, colleagues,

The humble, weak, and people of good will

I thank them for the good they do.

For making the earth a safer place

Praising them for their efforts

To bring joy and peace in this divisive world

I thank them for sacrifices that are often overlooked.

For being themselves when life seems impossible

I especially like to lift up my wife Mary,

Our son Matthew,

And daughter-in-law Shannon,

For being the world to me! 

Forgive Others

At all times try to forgive others. It’s a choice because you wish to move forward in a liberated way. As you embrace this gift, you will become whole.  You are taking the pain out of your own heart, and mending what was broken.  Believers in God, Allah, Brahma, Dao, and secular humanists know the benefits of forgiveness.  By forgiving you are setting a prisoner free, and doing so, you will heal.  This stage is found by the peace people find within their hearts.  In taking the high road you should never consider yourself weak, but as being a paragon of strength. Free yourself of bitterness, but if you continue to be angry, you will be robbing yourself of happiness.

Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence — the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.

The Dalai Lama, The Wisdom of Forgiveness (2004) by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan, p. 234.